Top 10 Films – Denzel Washington

Man on Fire

Man on Fire, one of Washington’s most memorable movie roles

List compiled by Eddie on 10/04/2015

A two time Oscar winner, a certified Box Office draw card and one of the most recognisable actors of his generation, there is not much that Denzel Washington hasn’t accomplished in his time in Hollywood and while he may have become a little lazy with his film choices of recent years there is little doubt about the credentials of Washington’s filmography.

Starting off relatively slowly, Washington’s career started to climb in the mid 80’s and culminated in an Oscar win in 1989 for his turn in Glory and from there Washington’s career never looked back despite the odd misfire in the mid 90’s to early 2000’s.

Once the new millennium began, Washington found himself leading a pack of wildly successful films, mainly of the action variety, that has seen him become the go to man for a certain form of gruff anti-hero types that audiences seem to lap up on mass. While Washington could surely play these roles in his sleep by now he still plays them well and with a natural charisma that many actors can only dream of, you sense that Washington still has a few years left in him to churn out likeable, successful films and hopefully a few downright dramatic classics that anchored his beginnings.

As always this below list is based on overall movie quality not Washington’s acting alone.

Happy reading and happy watching!


The Book of Eli was a seriously stylish action/thrillers

10. The Book of Eli (2010)

Washington plays – Eli

While there is nothing too much being said here, The Book of Eli is a stylish and entertaining apocalyptic vision with a killer ending. With enough original ideas and fun support from the likes of Gary Oldman, Eli is a great little movie with a typically strong Washington turn.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? No, a light fuzz.

9. Flight (2012)

Washington plays – Whip Whitaker

A divisive movie and a different type of character for Washington to portray (eg; not likeable) Robert Zemeckis plane crash drama features some truly stunning opening work then a fall back onto more familiar but never the less solid dramatic ground. Under seen by many, Flight is a movie worth boarding.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? No, a shortish cut is in play.

8. American Gangster (2007)

Washington plays – Frank Lucas

In one of his more iconic roles, Washington found himself front and centre of Ridley Scott’s gangster picture that told the true life story of drug king pin Frank Lucas. With a keen eye for the periods detail and with a great supporting cast, American Gangster is highly entertaining stuff and one of Scott’s last truly good films.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? Nope, a light fro is on show.

7. Malcolm X (1992)

Washington plays – Malcolm X

One of Spike Lee’s more controversial films (and that’s saying something) Malcolm X is an exhaustive and insightful look at the life and times of Malcolm X. Washington cuts a commanding figure in a film that whilst far from perfect, is a must see for anyone interested in the civil rights movement.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? Short cut to go with his specs.

6. Glory (1989)

Washington plays – Pvt. Trip

As part and parcel of all Edward Zwick films, Glory is a film that unashamedly aims for the epic and often succeeds. A movie perhaps made most famous by the fact Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his supporting turn and therefore set on a path of superstardom, Glory is a quality made movie about the oft un-told Civil War dramatics.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? No, but a shaved head is in action.


Glory, the movie that won Washington critical acclaim and an Oscar

5. Remember the Titans (2000)

Washington plays – Coach Herman Boone

While it’s typical Disney fair, Remember the Titans is a movie mightily hard not to fall for. Based on the true story of Coach Herman Boone and his chargers the T.C Williams High School Football team and there trials over adversity both racially and sportingly, this is sport based movie making at its very best and the all-star cast produce the goods.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? No, mid sized fro.

4. The Hurricane (1999)

Washington plays – Rubin Carter

Washington excels here as real life boxer turned unjustly prisoned Rubin Carter in the retelling of his incredible true story. A movie that pulls no punches, The Hurricane is a must see movie for those fans of boxing, human courage and truth prevailing over wrongs.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? Sporadically yes.

3. Inside Man (2006)

Washington plays – Detective Keith Frazer

Arguably Spike Lee’s most commercially viable and accessible film, Inside Man is a top notch heist thriller quite unlike any other. With a fantastic cast lead by Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, Inside Man is brimming with talent and is an edge of your seat experience from start to twisting finish.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? Yes, it looks pretty shiny to me.

2. Man on Fire (2004)

Washington plays – Joyhn W. Creasy

While there are many out there who want to detract late director Tony Scott’s work, Man on Fire is the perfect moulding of his style and substance thanks to a thrilling story, frenetic direction and a knock out turn from Washington himself as the hard as a concrete pylon Joyhn Creasy. Man on Fire is a thrilling action flick that deserves some more recognition.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? No, a nice close shave.

1. Training Day (2001)

Washington plays – Det. Alonzo Harris

In a role that would see him reach a career peak with an Academy Award win for Best Actor, Washington is on fire as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in Antoine Fuqua’s gut punching thriller. Playing off fantastically against the typically good Ethan Hawke, Training Day is a movie benefiting from stand out acting turns, a wiz banging script and a great directional feel. Training Day still remains these many years on, one of the most accomplished modern day cop tales.

Does Denzel have a shiny scalp? No, a very close trim.

Training Day

An iconic image from Training Day, Washington’s crowning acting achievement

Honourable mentions – Déjà vu, John Q, Antwone Fisher, Unstoppable, Philadelphia

How does this Washington Top 10 stack up to your favourites? Is there something missing? Is there a film to high or low on the list? Let us know in the comments below!

For our other actor Top 10’s see below –

Tom Hanks

Robert De Niro

Leonardo DiCaprio

Brad Pitt

Nicolas Cage

40 responses to “Top 10 Films – Denzel Washington

  1. Thanks. Denzel has always had authority as an actor which gives weight to his performances. Enjoying my visits here. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox.

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  3. American Gangster could have been a much better film.

    But the screenwriter spent too much time on a very conventional “crime as American dream” story and too little time examining the fascinating story about the “cadaver connection.”

    As far as I know, the “cadaver connection” (shipping heroin from Vietnam to the United States in body bags) only made it into one other American film, The Boys in Company C.

    American Gangster could have been a classic.

  4. Fine list Eddie. I need to see Training Day as soon as humanly possible. I feel ashamed for not having seen it already. Lol!

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  7. My top 3 Denzel Films
    1. Malcolm X
    2. The Hurricane
    3. Training Day
    Denzel is my favorite I wish he’d stick with the dramatic stuff but\I haven’t been enjoying his action roles lately The Book of Eli and The Equalizer were both pretty strong.

  8. First fell in love with Denzel in The Bone Collector which then led me to read the series in which the book is based. Still collecting them. He is my top fave actor of all time.

  9. Good picks! My two faves are Training Day and Book of Eli. I love the crime genre and Alonzo was an absolutely chilling character. Book of Eli involves the apocalyptic setting, which I love if done correctly, and Denzel nailed this tough guy – man of faith. All your picks were good. Love me some Denzel movies. Thank you.

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  14. Excellent selections of films here for Mr Washington. Also an actor I will watch in anything. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed him in The Equalizer!

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